Cornered and Caught City's largest manhunt ends with Carter's arrest Murderer found behind a bed

January 20, 1993|By William F. Zorzi Jr. and Joe Nawrozki | William F. Zorzi Jr. and Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writers Staff writers Eric Siegel, Rafael Alvarez, Michael James and Jay Apperson contributed to this article.

Dontay Carter, the convicted murderer whose escape prompted what police called the largest manhunt in city history, was captured last night by officers who rushed into a Northeast Baltimore apartment to find him hiding behind a bed.

"I don't have a gun," Carter said, almost whispering, as a city police assault team surrounded him in a rear bedroom of the third-floor apartment, according to an officer who was there.

Carter, 19, was taken into custody at approximately 6 p.m., about three hours after a city, state and federal task force surrounded the apartment complex at 5020 Goodnow Road and evacuated the building.

Police opened the apartment door with a key and burst in wearing helmets and body armor and carrying shotguns and automatic weapons. Carter identified himself and surrendered, and officers handcuffed him, took him downstairs and led him out the front door.

Dressed in light blue jeans and a black and gray sweat shirt -- a different outfit than the one he was wearing when he escaped -- Carter was led out with his head held high and a blank expression on his face.

As he left, city, state and federal law enforcement officers surged toward the apartment amid cheers and applause from nearby residents who had been warned to stay behind closed doors until Carter was apprehended.

Relieving the tension built up since Carter's escape from a city courthouse Monday afternoon, officers gave each other high-fives and shouted "Yeah, we got him," as he was led to a Baltimore City police wagon.

City police slapped leg shackles on Carter before loading him into the back of the wagon. Two uniformed officers then accompanied Carter to the homicide unit at police headquarters. Later, Carter was to be taken to the state's maximum-security prison, Supermax.

Police believe Carter knew at least one of the people who lived in the apartment. They would not say who rented it, but initial information indicated that two women were living there. Neither was home at the time of the capture.

City police were given a key to the apartment by its managers after homicide detectives obtained a search warrant.

Seconds after the police wagon spirited Carter downtown, U.S. Marshal for Baltimore Scott Sewell stood near a grassy hill outside, near where the capture took place and explained how the fugitive was found.

"A friend of Dontay's girlfriend had received a couple of calls from Dontay. Someone told us about her, and we worked her a little bit," Marshal Sewell said. "She didn't want to tell us anything. She was afraid. But we were able to trace the phone number back to this apartment."

Marshal Sewell said authorities used a "phone scam" to trick Carter into revealing his presence in the apartment.

"We had somebody call up and ask 'Who's this?' and Dontay said 'Man.' 'Man' is Dontay's street name," Marshal Sewell said. "When he said 'Man,' my deputy's heart was fluttering because we knew we had our man.

"We high-tailed it over there real quick. When they got to the apartment they saw movement in the window. We think he realized he'd been had but he had nowhere to go, there was only one door into that apartment and we kept an armed deputy right there at the bottom of the stairs . . . a gun trained on that door." Until his capture last night, Carter had eluded for nearly 30 hours a police search described as the largest and most intense in Baltimore history.

City and state police -- aided by several federal agencies and the city sheriff's office -- responded to "hundreds" of telephone tips and information from informers in their attempts to recapture Carter.

Police spokesman Sam Ringgold said the primary city-state police task force composed of 60 officers was augmented by the rest of the 1,700-member patrol force.

Before he was recaptured, police were out in force yesterday afternoon in Carter's old East Baltimore neighborhood, an area pockmarked by boarded-up rowhouses and trash-strewn alleys.

Police wagons and patrol cars with uniformed officers were everywhere. Unmarked police cars -- many nondescript rental cars bearing out-of-state license plates -- were also cruising the streets, staking out the homes of former Carter associates and ++ waiting to respond to any reported sightings of the murderer.

So intense was the search that a reporter who went to the home of the girlfriend of a former Carter associate was stopped as he was leaving. Two undercover policemen had run a check on his license plate while he was at the house.

In the space of about an hour, police stopped and questioned or frisked several people in the area, with several police cars converging on the scene at once.

Each incident brought out spectators, who watched from the doorways of their homes or emerged from surrounding streets ** and alleys.

At least one woman who lives in the area welcomed the beefed-up police presence.

"This is a big drug area. I feel good that they're around," said the woman, who asked that her name not be used.

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